Helping a partner through their grief process is a sacred and challenging endeavor. In these times, grief-stricken people can be extremely vulnerable and overwhelmed. They’ll need the strength, support, and care of their loved ones now more than ever. For those attempting to sort out how to support a grieving partner from a long distance, it may take extra organization and thoughtfulness to reach across the vast space separating them from a distraught loved one. Although being far away can be an obstacle, it may provide a wealth of healthy opportunities to give your partner compassionate support.
Steer the Ship
As a grief-stricken person absorbs the overwhelming shock of a loss, their emotional system and mental capacity can get maxed out. It could be extremely difficult for them to show up to normal, everyday tasks such as managing correspondence, paying bills, or cleaning their home. If they are open to it, steer the “logistical tasks ship” for them for a while. Captaining these duties will allow your partner to set down those burdens and focus on their mental health. Gratefully, so many chores can be managed online. Setting up a cleaning service to come to your partner’s home once a week is an act of love. Taking a break from dealing with laundry, vacuuming, and taking out the garbage will most likely give them relief. With so many people needing to be updated on the situation, you can offer to speak on your partner’s behalf. As the “gatekeeper of correspondence,” you can call, text, group chat, email, or use social media to update whoever should be notified.
Send a Care Package
A person dealing with grief may feel like they have the weight of the world on their shoulders. Sending a care package is a thoughtful way of acknowledging their burden. What you choose to put in the gift is personal. Perhaps they like fun snacks, a bottle of wine, or even some soothing lavender candles. People in grief need to eat but may be too overwhelmed to cook or sort out where and how to order food. Consider sending them a gift card to their favorite restaurant so they can order takeout for delivery. Whittling down the several decisions your partner is trying to manage helps to soothe their nervous system.
Letters and Albums
With the advent of email and social media, writing a letter and sending it via snail mail has become a distant memory. Older generations keep letters as keepsakes, a reminder of a sentimental bygone era. From the ink to the handwriting to the paper, letters are extremely personal, intimate, and romantic. You can surprise your grieving partner by writing a letter about a favorite memory you have of their departed loved one. If you didn’t know the deceased, perhaps you can write about your observations on your partner’s relationship with the departed. If nothing else, your letter can simply let your partner know you love them.
Putting together a photo book to send to your partner is a beautiful and touching way to express your love while offering support in a difficult time. If you can access pictures of the departed and your partner, creating an album of them together can be a moving tribute.
Setup Screen Time
Depending on the circumstances, see if you can create a grounding routine where you and your partner can regularly screen time. This simple schedule could help stabilize them, especially if it allows your partner to express themselves. Many feelings and emotions can rise unexpectedly during the grief process. Knowing they have a regular outlet to get it all out may be a welcoming balm to your partner’s over-taxed mind. Seeing your loving face in and of itself could offer instant relief. Because you and your partner are far apart, screen time chats can help teether both of you and fortify your relationship.
If your partner isn’t up for lots of talking but wants some company, consider streaming a show or movie with the virtual group watch feature enabled. You can watch the same movie or show in real time together with group watch. As you stream content, you can also chat. It might be a nice way to give your partner a break from talking solely about their grief experience. Sometimes watching something while lightly bantering with your partner is all that’s needed.
If it’s possible, consider visiting your partner. Even though your grief-stricken partner may protest and say it isn’t necessary, seeing you in person can lift their spirits. Whether you surprise them or plan the trip together, your arrival will be a beautiful way to support your partner—even if it's just for a short while. It’s about quality time, not quantity. As a partner, your care and support are essential to your grieving partner’s ability to weather their grief process.
No matter how you support a long-distance partner in their grief, reaching out and acknowledging their loss will be greatly appreciated. How you ultimately assist your partner in their grief is a personal choice. Whether your long distance is created by international or financial constraints, work or school schedules, health limitations, or something else, you can find a loving way to help your partner through their pain from far away.
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